Written Interviews

Interview with Nicola Barcellona of Communia, a web agency

Today I am presenting another written interview with Nicola Barcellona of Communia. Nicola is a seasoned digital communications leader and strategist. Recently he founded his own marketing consulting company called Communia. He has nicol_barcellonaalso worked for world-famous companies such as Millennium Hotel and Sheraton Hotel in UAE.

Check out the interview:

1. What got you interested in starting your own web agency? Share your story.

I had always dreamed of opening my own business since I took a degree in Marketing & Communication. At that time, I was too young and inexperienced so I thought that gaining work experience abroad would helped me. I applied for Millennium Hotels and I got a job in Abu Dhabi as a marketing trainee. Afterwards, I had the chance of growing further in international companies such as Costa Cruises. On 13th January 2012, following the Costa Concordia shipwreck in which I was involved, I realized that we can lose our life at any moment, and we don’t have to waste time. Therefore, after a brief experience in Dubai, I went back to Italy and I founded Communia.

2. How have you gone about finding new clients for your business? What’s working for you?

Luca Montes – my business partner – is one of the most experienced sales agent in my city hence we got many clients due to his ability. Besides, we are working on SEO strategies. It is one of the most time-consuming work, but it is worth it. I think that working with SEO is the future of marketing, and we are already seeing results.

3. What types of clients do you usually work with?

Clients of all types, from medical field to shopping malls.

4. What is the biggest challenge you generally face as a web agency?

Make clients understand that web marketing does not mean open a website, fill it with a great deal of company’s information, create an Ad campaign on Google, and wait for customers. Worse yet, open a Facebook page, post promotional messages and wait for new clients.

Web marketing requires elaborates procedures, and a good plan. Make my clients understand the work behind online marketing is not easy.

5. What are your future plans for 2014 and beyond?

My plan for 2014 is to grow my business: get new clients, strengthen the online presence of Communia, and expand abroad. To hit the target, there is only one-way: growing along with my company. I am investing time and money to learn from the best of the field, and I always stay abreast of the constantly-evolving world of the internet. Therefore, I’m planning to attend numerous training with the best web marketing practitioners.

Written Interviews

Interview with Aaron Christian of DS9 Design

Today I am presenting another written interview with Aaron Christian of DS9 Design. 1

Check out the interview:

1. What got you interested in web design? Share your story.

I was fortunate enough to have a teacher in my grade school academy in Orange County that was at the time on the development team for Sony. Our task for the year was to create a portal for our schools students and teachers. The class was very rudimentary, and at the time it was still common practice to use “tables” and other depreciated tags in our html websites.

I stuck with it after taking the class, eventually launching monetized sites and online communities through-out high school.

Coding practices have changed so much in the past decade, especially with the web. Every day I learn new things while working with clients, which is always exciting for me.

2. How do you stand out from other companies that offer web design services?

It’s not rocket science creating a website, but it is difficult to develop visually attractive ones with the functionality that drives sales. It’s easy to fall into “comfort patterns”, using the same WYSIWYG Table based designs that you learned 10 years ago. The online marketplace is highly competitive. Your main street web designer isn’t up to date with the latest frameworks like Jquery, Angular, etc. This may seem like nonsense to people that are not in field, but when it comes down to ranking higher in search engines, and increasing conversion rates, it matters!

Would you want your product to be displayed in a bargain bin at TJMaxx, or a display case at Bloomingdales?

3. How have you gone about marketing your services and what’s working for you?

Optimizing your site for your demographic is extremely important. We’ve learned that sometimes it’s necessary to pivot. Business owners invest hours of time creating business plans, with every step written out and every result calculated.

In a traditional sense, a business with a well formed business plan was likely to succeed.

Where people fail is that when their is a deviation to their plan, and their results end up not as planned. These variables give people the illusion of failure

The reality of this is, running a business is more cognate to driving a car.

Think about your drive to work. How would you describe getting there? Would it be a step-by-step list with every motion your foot makes on the pedal? Or would it be a directions list? When there’s traffic and you’re running late, do you call it quits and decide to not show for work, or do you find an alternative route?

It is essential to follow social signals and trends for an effective marketing plan.

4. What are a few of the most common requests you get from clients when it comes to web design work?

The ability to set up e-commerce shops comes from the relatively low overhead. You no longer have to invest in a storefront to operate a business. People tend to migrate over from the Big Box “E-retailers” such as Wix and Square space after realizing the limits. We develop custom online stores that are optimized for higher returns on investments and conversion rates.

5. What are your future plans for 2014 and beyond?

We believe in working with clients on a one-on-one basis. Expansion is necessary, but expansion without sacrificing quality is our #1 goal at DS9 Design.

Written Interviews

Interview with Forrest Musselman of Mindbrew Creative

Today I am presenting another written interview with Forrest Musselman of Mindbrew Creative. forrestThey concentrate on bringing website design and online marketing to small businesses who can’t afford the big guys.

Check out the interview:

  1. What got you interested in starting MindBrew Creative? Share your story.

Mindbrew’s birth officially came in 2013, but it had been slowly churning in my head for a long time.

Web Design, Content Writing, SEO, Graphic Design – these were all things I’ve been doing on the side, as a freelancer, since 2007. In high school I was lucky enough to land an after-school internship at a local creative agency that held some pretty large accounts. I was able to be surrounded by the best at a young age and learn a lot about marketing and design. The kind of stuff you can’t learn in a classroom.

I kept working as a copywriter (I have a B.A. in English) and website designer for smaller companies as I went through college and then graduation. I knew I wanted to figure out a way to be more than a freelancer, but I wasn’t finding my niche.

Then in the spring of 2013 I got a call from my friend, who had recently started his own non-profit and who was an owner of a homemade foods store in Pennsylvania with his wife. They needed a lot of help online and asked me if I was interested in doing some pro-bono work for them. They also had a few questions for me about the price of the services I typically offered. They had been gathering quotes for their print and web needs and were astonished at the premium cost most larger firms were charging them.

To make a long story short, the long-awaited niche had just been discovered. Mindbrew Creative was born.

  1. What are some of the most common things small businesses look for when getting a website designed?

Small business owners that we meet are typically looking for a website that will give a great first impression. Many of them have old, out-dated websites or no web presence at all. Business owners are starting to understand that in today’s marketplace, not being visible on a Google search is a death sentence.

The men and women I meet are also looking for a website that will make their business stand out, and that’s exactly what look to accomplish. It used to be that you simply needed a website, that’s no longer the case. It now becomes a struggle to see which business can have the best, most informative and engaging website. Well-written content that reaches potential customers and get’s them to take the next step – that’s what our websites are made out of.

  1. How do you stand out in such an in-demand niche? There are lots of companies that offer web design, what makes yours different?

Great question, it’s one I need to keep asking myself in order to ensure we do stand out from the crowd.

We’ve based Mindbrew on the idea that small business owners are tired of being spammed, mistreated, and strung out by agencies and designers who offer empty promises. So, we always position ourselves in most transparent way possible. We keep a blog on our website called “The Brew Blog” that offers actual advice on things like social media management, the importance of blogging, and how to ward of spammy, lying SEOs.

The other way we stand out is simply by our rates. The idea that drives Mindbrew is that small business owners deserve the same high-quality website design and online marketing services that the big players have. We’re a small business ourself, and we built our model based on rates that cut larger agencies rates by more than 50%, sometimes much more than that, depending on the scope of work.

  1. How have you gone about finding new clients for your services?

We rely heavily on word-of-mouth and referrals. We of course engage in social media and we always interact with our local communities and small businesses, but our low prices have excited our clients enough that they tell all of their buddies. It’s pretty amazing to see how word gets out.

I think business owners have felt locked out when it comes to bigger marketing ideas and website possibilities. We’re here to tell them not to settle for sub-par web design, marketing, whatever. Give us a call and we can help you out without risking your ability to keep the lights on.

  1. What are your future plans for 2014 and beyond?

I’m always looking to shorten the timeframe for a new service or capability to become readily available on a small business budget. Right now there is obviously a large push towards app development, so by 2015 I’d like to see Mindbrew offering apps along with our websites.

We’ll also be releasing our first E-Book, “The Ultimate Small Business Website” this fall. It will be yet another way for us to help out small business owners who want to be able to do as much as they can on a shoestring budget. We aren’t worried about giving away any of our secrets. We know that the people who truly see the value in what we do will still want us to be a part of their team.

Besides that, we just want to be involved in as many cool projects as possible. Checkout MindBrew Creative.